Why you need to be prepared for anything…

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How much time do you spend preparing for what can go wrong? If you’re ready to be prepared you can save yourself both embarrassment and some bad decisions…

Fallout from the May 6/15 Alberta election has made me recall some of the mistakes I’ve made in my own professional life.

When I worked for a newspaper company, I helped produce two bestselling cookbooks. We sold them through the newspaper — not in stores — and we handled sales by mail order or over the phone. We had such intense demand for the first book that for three days eager buyers endured hours of either waiting on hold or hearing nothing but a busy signal. In other words, we’d totally underestimated demand.

A year later when we released the sequel, we made no such mistake. We had phone lines racked and ready as though they were cookies on a conveyer belt. And guess what? We didn’t have nearly the same number of orders. In short, after reacting to the previous year’s experience, we’d completely overestimated demand.

Corporations — and politicians — need to prepare for anything that happens. In the first instance, I should have had a backup plan. In the second, fortunately, I was able to shut down the extra phone lines relatively easily and at little expense.

Alberta Conservative Party leader Jim Prentice can’t say the same. His party lost an election this week by a stunning margin: 53 seats for the New Democratic Party, 21 for the Wildrose Party, and only 10 for the Conservatives. Previously, the PCs had formed the provincial government, without interruption, for 44 years. It was the longest unbroken run in government at the provincial or federal level in Canadian history.

What went wrong? I’ll leave that discussion to other experts. But for now let me say that Prentice has resigned far too quickly. Sure, everyone would have expected him to resign immediately as party leader. But his resignation as a member of the Legislative Assembly makes him look petulant and ill-tempered. He won his own seat so why isn’t he serving his term?

I think he reacted emotionally and too quickly. If he’d taken the time to think it over — or, better, if he’d thought about it in advance — he wouldn’t have done it.